Design Icon: The Eames Chair That's Always Seen in Korean Dramas and Hollywood Films
Classic, handsome, and always silently in the background; no, it’s not another celebrity supporting character here to steal your hearts. The star in question? It’s the Eames lounge chair and its accompanying ottoman.
Often used to convey a character’s tasteful eye and luxurious lifestyle, the chair has undeniable major star power; its film credits consist of Korean drama and movie hits such as It's Okay to Not Be Okay and The Housemaid, blockbusters like Iron Man, as well as popular series shows such as Gossip Girl and Shark Tank. Admired by design aficionados and collectors worldwide, the Eames lounge chair and ottoman has become a status symbol.
The sharks in reality television series Shark Tank sitting on a white version of the Eames lounge chair (Image: ABC, no copyright infringement intended.)
The Eames lounge chair and ottoman also makes an appearance on Gossip Girl, upholstered in a bright Missoni fabric (Image: The CW, no copyright infringement intended.)
The Eames lounge chair in the background in Iron Man, while Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) sits on the ottoman (Image: ABC, no copyright infringement intended.)
The lounge chair and ottoman made a brief appearance on Korean thriller blockbuster The Housemaid (Image: Mirovision, no copyright infringement intended.)
Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, the influential American husband-and-wife design duo, the iconic mid-century modern chair and ottoman set was the couple’s first high-end furniture piece. Otherwise known as the 670 and 671, the chair was inspired by 19th-century traditional English club chairs. Charles famously envisioned the chair to have “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman's mitt”.
The design icon has made its mark in the industry as a mid-century modern star (Image: Herman Miller)
The Eames lounge chair is crafted from plywood and covered with a veneer finish (Image: Herman Miller)
Charles and Ray Eames were renowned for their expertise with materials, in particular plywood, and the lounge chair—like most of the other designs by the designer couple—perfectly represents that. A show of refined craftsmanship, the chair is made up of three molded plywood shells and covered with a smooth veneer layer. The accompanying ottoman has its own structural molded plywood shell.
First introduced in 1956, the lounge chair has grown through several changes over time. While the original design was finished with Brazilian rosewood, it was discontinued in the early 1990s. The current selection of finishing veneers includes options such as walnut, cherry, white ash, and a variety of other finishes. The original leather cushions, reversible and uniquely attached with innovative hardware, can also be upholstered in fabric.
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With its sleek design and distinctive silhouette that brings to mind a combination of a leather recliner and an office chair, the lounge chair and ottoman instantly evoke class and sophistication. Boasting an unparalleled attention to detail, it’s incredibly easy to see why the chair is a mid-century modern icon.
According to the Eames Office, the couple’s family office that’s currently managed by their grandchildren, the Eames lounge chair and ottoman are often “handed down from generation to generation as beloved heirlooms”.
Besides on-screen cameos, the iconic design can also be found in luxurious homes and displays worldwide. It is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as well as the Henry Ford Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The Eames lounge chair and ottoman are produced and distributed by Herman Miller in the US and Asia. In Singapore, the enduring classic can be purchased from Xtra.
With its contemporary form and quiet elegance, the Eames lounge chair and ottoman remains a highly sought-after design that elevates any abode it can be found in.